Crimson and Clover: A Tribute to Tommy James & the Shondells

Texas platters

Phases & Stages

Crimson and Clover: A Tribute to Tommy James & the Shondells

(Wildebeest)

Scoff dismissively if you must, but this tribute to Sixties bubblegum auteur Tommy James on local imprint Wildebeest is way better than it has a right to be. It's easy to mistake Tommy James & the Shondells as tasty but less-than-venerable oldies fodder, but once you add up their singles (plus subsequent cover versions), the sum total is prodigious indeed. Crimson and Clover opens with a faithful, if slightly-warped, version of the title track by Austin's veteran psychedelic rangers the Coffee Sergeants. The Rapiers then ferry us toward the Mersey with a rollicking "Gettin' Together," followed by Seattle's Boss Martians power poppin' "Love's Closin' in on Me." Dolo re-engineers "Crystal Blue Persuasion" as discounted New Jack Soul, while Boyce's Road plays it relatively safe with the oft-covered "I Think We're Alone Now." Locals Herman the German and Toni Price get together over cocktails for a playfully lewd "Hanky Panky," while rockabilly queens the Casey Sisters hint at the sassy toughness of the late Russ Meyer's Carrie Nations on "You Better Watch Out." If Meat Loaf had done time in a garage band while growing up in Dallas, it probably would've sounded a lot like the PowerKnobs doing "Gingerbread Man." All this lays the groundwork for an appearance by James himself on the final cut. His 1996 live performance of "Sugar on Sunday," a 1969 hit for Houston's the Clique, is the perfect capper to this fun ride.

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